Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Minutes of the 9th Meeting on Oct 25

Excursion to Renate's construction site in Bondalem. Some members were out of order (sakit perut) due to too much babi guling or busy, so it was again Beate, Burgel and myself, who were driven by Pak Ketut Suasa to Bondalem. Burkhard followed us on his motorbike while his wife Yuli took care of their new construction site. After a call for directions we found Renate's place on the beach and - surprise, surprise! - many interested people I haven't met so far, most of them german speaking. To my relief our ceremony mistress Beate guided us skillfully and joyfully through the day.

Renate explaining the plans of the buildings

Although Renate just had moved to the place the day before she was already very well organized and started giving us some information on the path that led her to Bali and on her vision for the project. Have a look at her website for more information. After 4 years of travelling and preparing she had decided to make the property in Bondalem her new base for living and began to draw the plans of a healing place inspired by the clarity and calmness of zen monasteries. As she is not a professional designer she let an architect go over her sketches and draw the final plans to get the permit for construction. To help understanding the plans and communicating them to the workers Renate had made a colorful paper model of the buildings.

paper model of the buildings

The main theme of the place is water: the healing power of the ocean nearby combined with a special water therapy for which a 35 degree Celsius warm pool is built and a regular swimming pool. Xavier, an experienced water therapist and as such very aware of water quality, explained us the challenges a pool designer is faced with. Luckily in Bali we usually can enjoy good water quality. Our skin is not waterproof, there is an exchange of molecules through the skin with the surrounding water. Infinity pools have the advantage that the chlorine gas which usually floats above the water level right in the area where we breathe can drift away while it is trapped by the surrounding wall in skimmer pools. There are various water treatment technologies, many of them not available though in Bali. So it is wise to choose a system that is available and can be maintained locally which are pool ionizers. The swimming pool contractor from Denpasar which was expected for 4pm does not show up. The holiday of Kuningan the day before might be a reason.

swimming pool by the ocean

enjoying the breeze from the ocean

Pak Willis explaining "constructing needs time"

After the introduction Renate guided us through the construction site where her contractor Pak Willis, another sweet Balinese guy, explained how he liked working for Renate and excused himself for any misunderstandings and not progressing faster. Everything needs time. Yes, and then it was time for lunch. The javanese workers had grilled 2 big fresh fish and the kitchen fairies had prepared wonderful salads, fritters and rice for us. What a delight!

grilled fish for lunch

After lunch some of the participants had to leave and the rest of us shared some information:
  • Beate told us about her traditional Bali rice project. The rice has already been harvested. As the halms are higher than the fast growing species it is harvested in an upright position, back straight, not bent, with a special knife. After the rice is dry enough it will be gedrescht in the traditional way.
  • Beate informed that she received a generous donation for her children project. The children and the people from the village would like to use the money for public toilets and a waste water garden in the village
  • Beate talked with members of the environment department in Denpasar about the waste problem. They are really interested in supporting a project. So Beate asks us for help in designing a waste treatment system for Buleleng.
  • Evelyn shared some insights from the PDC with Bill Mollison which she attended in Melbourne lately.
  • Then we talked about solar energy. Renate showed us the brochures of Contained Energy which offers now solutions in Bali. The problem with solar energy very often is storage of the energy for the time when the sun is not shining. Batteries are needed which are expensive and tend to break. Burkhard recommends to bring down the peak energy usage by not using all the power consumers together. Like this a contract for less KW can be agreed on with PLN.
  • We discussed strategies how to interact with the local communities. Sometimes our good intentions can lead to aversion by the local community if we don't integrate them very carefully into the projects. Watch out for open doors and open minds!
  • Nicole distributes an introduction into MET (Meridian Energy Techniques), an easy-to-learn method for dealing with stress and fears.
  • Renate told us how the coconut poles were made termite-safe. They split the poles and filled them with cement and iron and put them together again.
  • On the way back we stopped at Bali Mandala Resort to return a pair of shoes following the permaculture desing principle: every element, like in our case the ride home, supports more than one function!

Please note the date for the next meeting: Sunday, November 15, 2009. The venue is not yet clear. Maybe Beate's place in Manuksesa. An information will follow by Renate a few days before.

concrete filled coconut poles

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Update: Next Permaculture Meeting on 25th of October 2009

Our next meeting will be on Renate's site in Bondalem on Sunday, the 25th of October 2009 at 10 am. I am sure there will be a lot of interesting things to see, i.e. solar energy and other environmental friendly building ideas. Please contact me if you want to join because Renate has to organize the lunch. Thanks and selamat hari Raya Kuningan!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Back from PDC Melbourne

spreading the wings (by Elena)

I would like to start the posting with a few words from Marcel Proust, which characterize pretty much my experiences during my stay in Melbourne:

The real journey of discovery is not to seeking new landscapes, but in seeing with new eyes.

That's what Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton did with their stories and teachings: opening our eyes so we can look at the world around us from a new perspective, the permaculture design perspective, which is based on the 3 ethical pillars for any action: caring for the earth, caring for the people including oneself and using any surplus for the latter two. Just imagine if every family grows their own food in a sustainable way. Healthier and more nutritious food, healthier people, less transportation and storage needed, less energy consumption and pollution, healthier environment, less stress, less aggression, less greed, happier people, more peace....Why not try? Why not here and now? Why not you and me? That's what Bill and Geoff made clear on the first day of the course: it is time to act, time to become part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. Our planet probably faces the biggest challenges in her history, but at the same time humanity had never such a vast knowledge and so many hearts and hands to heal. In the course we were 84 highly motivated students from all over the world, all age groups, various cultural and social backgrounds, all sharing the same vision and there are many more out there already designing, digging swales and building dams, reafforesting, gardening, composting, teaching etc. These are the good news. The bad news are that we are really in serious trouble with climate change and all its effects about which you hear in the media daily. We are in trouble NOW! So every one of us is important however small or big the contribution is. JUST DO IT!
Today I just want to give you my overall impressions and some highlights from the course. I have a full notebook with details and drawings which I want to study further in the next weeks and put in postings from time to time. I am still very busy on our construction site preparing for the rainy season.
The course covered basically the contents of the Designer's Manual enriched by many stories and project experiences from Bill and Geoff. Here are some websites that might interest and inspire you:
- magic in melbourne by Craig Mackintosh with picture of Bill
- www.homegrownrevolution.com
- www.urbanhomestead.org
- www.freedomgardens.org
- www.happyearth.com.au
- www.spinfarming.com
- www.chirchofdeepecology.org
- Banana Circle Recipe to cut waste

As you can imagine with 84 students from all over the world there was much more to learn than "only" what was taught in the classroom. So actually there were 86 teachers and students. Bill's wife Lisa and some helpers in the back pampered us in the morning and afternoon breaks with delicious snacks which saved me the money to buy lunch, quite expensiv in Melbourne. One banana at the SevenEleven costs 1.20 AUD, 1 kg apples almost 7 AUD, more than a worker at our construction site earns in a day.
The first eight days of the course were filled with lectures and mainly listening. On day 9 in the afternoon we were randomly grouped and each group received a brief from a pretended client to design the empty 4000 m2 area just outside the lecture theatre. Quite challenging for me first to find my place in the group, then to apply the various methods of design, come to a result and then present the result in the class. It was great to have Elena as room mate in these times, relieving my stress in just listening to my worries and telling me that we are here to learn from our mistakes and not to be perfect. After the presentations it was party time which meant performance time. Challenging me again beyond my habitual behaviour so that I was tempted to sneak out and escape. But Julia gave me a warm brazilian hug and talked me into staying. So thanks to her I stepped over another of my limitations and danced the life of a butterfly for my fellow students who all did awesome performances. What do we need TV Shows for when we all have such amazing talents!
The last day of the course was dedicated to receive the Permaculture Design Certificate from Bill and Geoff and then everybody told the group what will be her or his next steps and intentions towards a more sustainable life. May we all find the courage and the energy to realize our beneficial intentions!
Thank you, Norm and Elena, for inspiring me to attend this great course! And my husband Johann, who supported me with his good wishes and love.

receiving certificate from Bill and Geoff (by Elena)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Minutes of the 8th Meeting

Excursion to KEV. Some members were out of country or busy so it was Beate and myself, who met at Burgel's place to drive together to KEV. On the way I was listening to the funny stories of Beate and Burgel about their time-out from their families while enjoying the luxury of an air-conditioned car driven by Pak Suasa Ketut. We are heading towards the end of the dry season now with very hot weather during the day.
We all were curious about the progress of KEV since we last visited in January for setting up the first waste water garden there. Brigitta and Silvia, both tanned and healthy looking from outdoor working, welcomed us together with a refreshing breeze from the sea.

Brigitta's Beach House

Brigitta, Silvia and Evelyn looking at the sludge blanket

septic tank with sludge blanket

Brigitta first took us on a tour through and around her new lovely beach house. The tiles are painted bright to reflect the heat and the windows are designed that the breezes can cool the house. We could not resist to open the septic tank after having heard so much about sludge blankets and never seen one. It is much less smelly than expected and the plants in the leachfield seem to enjoy the nutrients from the tank as do the maggots around the lid. We wondered how they got in there. I fell in love with the bathrooms which Brigitta decorated with jadegreen pebbles and tiles in meandering curves with little mirrors in between. Very playful and serene!
The place for the diving equipment has 2 basins for washing the gear. There is also hot water available. With a switch Brigitta can choose depending on the saltiness of the water if it is drained to the septic tank or the got which leads directly to the sea. At the moment the shed for the generator is in construction. To reduce the noise the walls are built as a sandwich of 2 brick layers with a layer of rice husks and cement in between.
Then Silvia took us to her site. Amazing what she has done since January! The restaurant and the big kitchen are in the finalising phase. It will be very spatious and airy with its big roof made from alang-alang which people from a mountain village have brought. They lived and worked on the construction site until the roof was covered.

Silvia's farm shop with thermal chimney

The store where Silvia will sell fresh vegetables from her garden and other products made from local plants like natural cosmetics is also in the finalising phase. It will be cooled by air which is sucked in through an earth pipe and then circulated into a thermal chimney. And the first guest bungalow is on its way. All buildings are made out of adobe. As the earth for the adobe is always different they do first a sample. Depending on how much clay the earth contains more or less sand has to be added that the adobe does not crack.

mulch on the veggie beds and sawdust on the paths in the mandala garden

seedlings ready to move

The vegetable garden is laid out as a mandala, the plant beds thickly mulched and the paths covered with saw dust. The first seedlings are soon ready to be planted. More than 60 young fruit trees are planted and the pigs look happy and healthy. Sweet potatoes, rosella and maniok are already available for cooking.
As the sun was setting we returned to Brigittas house and enjoyed coffee and cake on her peaceful terrasse. Great excursion with lots of inspiration! Thank you, Silvia and Brigitta.
Elena and I will attend the Permaculture Design Certificate Course with Bill Mollison in Melbourne from Sept. 21 to Oct.3. We will keep you posted here in the blog.

Please note the date for the next meeting: Saturday, October 17, 2009. The venue is not yet clear, maybe Renate's construction site in the east.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Guru's Talk

Hi Folks

Tomato blight, like so many other pest problems here, is fungal. That's why you see the grape growers spraying so much, it's usually a fungacide to control fungal outbreaks on the grapes.

Traditionally, gardeners have used Bordeaux Mix* for fungal problems. I don't any longer consider it organic, but in my opinion, it is ok to use occassionally when you're having problems with fungus.
*Copper Sulphate & Washing Soda (many recipes on the 'net) You can get the ingredients at Saba Kimia in Denpasar.

You were right, Evelyn, about creating the conditions to encourage fungus by watering the leaves. Better you water well around the roots and keep the leaves dry. Also better to water thouroughly say twice a week (so the soil is soaked to the roots), than a light watering every day (which will keep the surface moist ie. fungal, but may keep the roots thirsty).

Finally, it's a good idea to germinate your seeds in a sterile potting mix (if your seedlings are falling over because the stem has shrivelled, it's probably fungus). Just spread your potting mix out in the hot sun for a day. You can quickly rebuild soil-life later with compost mixed with water.

Have you all got some pigeon peas in? Silvia's didn't grow well but try one seedling in a poly bag till 30-40cms then plant them out. They are fragile until established - keep weeds away from them and give them some water - so look after them until they're about 1m tall, then they should be ok.

Something to remember, in the tropics, heavy rains wash nutrients out of soils leaving them quite infertile. In nature or a well managed garden, nutrients are constantly cycled by leaf-drop, plant/animal wastes or compost & mulching, but in most modern gardens, there is little nutrient cycling and soils become infertile.

If the macro-nutrients (Nitrogen, Potassium & Phosphate) are low or missing, nothing will work. So, you need to get your maco-nutrient levels up to achieve strong plant growth. You'll do this over time with good management, but in the short term, some fertilizer will help.

Once again, it's not considered organic, but for a new project where the soils are not yet too good, I suggest an occassional (1 or 2 times/year)light application of NPK fertilizer to get your garden going. Ignore the manufacturer's advice, just a light dressing over your gardens will do. After this, concentrate on building and balancing micro-nutrients, minerals and soil carbon...

Are you preparing seedlings and sites for wet season plantings? Have you thought about stormwater drainage BEFORE the wet season? Save yourself problems later by sorting out your drainage issues now...

Silvia, I love your project, it will be one of the best examples of sustainable development in Bali - I especially like your pig system. We're looking forward to linking our Lodge guests up with your place.

Attached, a pic of Norm's new hideaway and workspace.


Sunday, 16 August 2009

Minutes of the 7th Meeting

Instead of a meeting I had invited the group members to our construction site in Selat Gintungan and Burgel came up with the glorious idea to go trekking. So I asked my neighbour Sri who runs the restaurant Biergarten and offers trekking tours to organize the tour and cook lunch for us.
We, that is Burgel, Renate and her two visiting friends Beate and Marianne, Nicole and Jochen, Johann and me, met around 8.30am at restaurant Biergarten where our guides Pak Suwi and his son Ketut and our gardener Kadek were waiting for us. They carried the water and the snacks, so that we could concentrate on the jungle trek which led along a steep hill flank over a river to a valley which is enclosed with high rock walls over which the water falls spectacularely during the rainy season. Many families in the region take their water supply from here and the water pipes accompanied our way. As it is dry season now the water was only dripping over the rocks. The air was cool and refreshing at the foot of the rock wall where we took our break and ate the sandwiches and fruits. Sorry for the missing chocolate!
Renate had already turned back because she had her shoulder operated recently and was afraid to fall on the sometimes narrow and slippery path. On the way back Pak Suwi discovered a huge bee's nest high up in a tree. So he left us to tend to the honey. Our gardener Kadek who made the trek the first time guided us safely back to the Biergarten while Ketut tried hard to prevent Nicole from falling.
At around 1pm also Silvia and Brigitta from KEV had arrived and we all enjoyed Sri's delicacies. During lunch a lot of information and stories were shared. I got a little confused with so much talking around me and missed Beate's gentle, but determined guidance through the meetings. So if you miss a subject, please add it in the comments section or send me an email and I will add it here.
  • Brigitta planted the first tree in her garden at KEV: a mahony or tulip tree.
  • Nicole told us about Meridian Energy Therapy, a method which helps to get rid of unwanted habits, fears and phobias. In english it is also known as Emotional Freedom Technique. She offered to introduce the method to everybody interested at her soon opening Cili Emas Beach Resort.
  • Jochen told us about LED lamps which use even less energy than the ecology bulbs and are available at the following store in Denpasar:
Jl. Teuku Umar No. 62 (70)
Tel: 0361 225020
Fax: 0361 236661
Email: multidayabali@yahoo.com
  • For everything around wood (floors, sliding doors etc.), stone floors and basins Jochen recommends the following store:
By Pass Ngurah Rai 465,
Tel: 0361 726505
Fax: 0361 722167
Email: laras@indo.net.id
  • For ecological building material Silvia recommended again The Little Tree. See Link List. Although the shop is not yet open, you can buy materials by this contact adress:
Little Tree 0361 8585053, Pak Yudhi, or product information via email with Ibu Ketut: product1@littletreebali.com.

After lunch and coffee we started for a site tour on our property. Thank you for all your comments, questions and suggestions! If you are interested in details about the construction please have a look at my blog or email me your questions.

Next meeting will be an excursion to KEV on Sunday, September 13, 2009 . Details will follow when arranged.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Discovering Neem

I want to share with you the very informative website of Birgit about many uses of the Neem tree. She put all the information together in an easy understandable and usable way. Just inspired me to start spraying the cocoa plants in the garden with a 1% Neem Oil solution today. I add the website to the link section that it is always accessible.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Tomato Blight

Just before the tomato, I got from Gede, started to become red and ripe the leafs of the plant turned brown and dry and the skin of the fruits developed growing brown dots and finally fell down rotten. The same happened to the chillies that stood next to the tomato, except that the leaves stayed green. Now there is only the eggplant left in the bed and the leaves don't look very healthy. But the fruits still grow and look ok, so I decided to leave the plant and watch it. As I have once read about tomato blight in a gardening book I started to research about it in the Internet and learned that:
- early tomato blight is caused by the fungus Alternaria solani which is hosted by plants of the solanaceae family (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants)
- the fungus needs water to multiply
- the fungus will survive if it has a host

So planting tomatoes together with chillies and eggplant and showering the plants from top was creating the best conditions for the fungi to thrive. I did not find a better solution than to throw the plants out, let them dry and burn them and then not plant any plant of the solanaceae familiy for 3 to 4 years at the same place.
I asked my neighbours how their chillies are doing and found out that quite some have the same problem.
I wonder what your experiences are and what advice you can give.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Keep learning

walls becoming teachers

When Elena asked in her Greece Report "anybody wants to join me?" my heart jumped up and jubilated YES. So I will join her for the PDCC in Melbourne. Flight and accomodation are booked and I got already the eVisitor entry permission for Australia. I want to learn as much as possible from Bill Mollison's book in advance. So when I read I make notes and sketches and decorate the walls with them that they are always in my sight.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Minutes of the 6th Meeting

Meeting was held on July 15, 3-5pm at Warung Bambu, Pemaron, Bali

Present at the Meeting in Warung Bambu: Beate, Renate, Yuli, Burkhard, Burgel, Tilli, Evelyn
Absent: Brigitta and Silvia are very busy packing and moving their things to their new home in KEV. Gina is back in Bali, but busy with preparing for a guest group.

Next meeting will be an excursion to KEV. Details will follow when arranged.

As it is peak tourist season in Bali, everybody is busy taking care of guests in one way or the other. All the same we are glad we met and Beate provided again her cosy place for us. As there were no subjects on the agenda we just let the subjects arise and we ended up in a festival of the senses with lots of tasting and smelling and watching and touching. But first the more serious things.
  • Beate informed, that the organic rice which she and her husband planted on 30 are (1 are = 100 m2) is growing well. The price for 1 kg organic rice is 15'000 Rp., 3 times as much as for regular rice, which gives the farmer a better income and is more healthy and nutritious.
  • Some members made the experience that their gardeners don't water the vegetable garden properly, same amount of water for every plant or forgetting to water the seedlings regularly. It seems that Balinese gardeners are not used to tend to vegetable gardens. They usually plant rice or another crop and then leave it grow. Renate suggested to put the tasks in writing and hang them somewhere where they can be read every day. It also helps to set priorities. We need to understand how Balinese people think and learn in order to help them. Sometimes we just take it for granted that they think in the same way as we do and forget how fortunate we are that we were born in Europe and had access to a good education.
  • Beate reminded us about our goal to set up an organic market in Lovina until the end of the year. We talked about products to be sold and a good location for a start.
  • We found out how little we know about coconut oil. How is it produced? Yuli explained us how her mother used to make it by grating the white flesh, soaking it in water, pressing it and then heating the resulting coconut milk until the oil swims on top, skimming it and heating it again until it becomes clear and all the water is gone. Beate let us smell and taste the local made coconut oil she uses in her restaurant. What a delicacy for tongue and nose and fingers! We compared it to an older sample of cold pressed coconut oil from Bali Asli which smelled more like Bounty but also a bit rancid.
  • This led to the next question: What other oils are available in Bali? Luckily the kitchen was not far and one of Beate's lovely staff members heated a kemiri nut so we could experience the kemiri oil. Probably the most widespread cooking oil in Bali is palm oil like Bimoli made from oil palms which are planted in huge monocultural plantations.
  • From oil to water: Filtering the water or buying bottled water for drinking? What brand and what kind of filter? Tilli has a filter but can not buy the filtering replacements any more. Beate recommends the water filter from AMWAY, which is available at ABD Shop in Singaraja. Is there a laboratory for testing water quality?
  • From water to bread: Big issue for western people. Where to buy good flour for making bread? How to make good bread? Beate's bread maker just finished a loaf and she let us nibble on a slice. Very yummy! And later Beate's daughter Narayani shows us how simple the use of the bread maker is after the mother has read the instruction manual for all the different buttons. Reminded me of my old friend in Portugal who baked bread for the Saturday farmers market there. She just bought the grains. Thursday evening she started preparing the dough by grinding the grains in her mill. Have you ever smelled and touched freshly grinded flour? Then she mixed the different kinds of flour and added the sourdough and let it rest and develop for the night. The next morning she added the salt, some more flour and water and finished the dough by kneading it with her skillful hands. When the dough was finished it was cut and weighed and filled in the oiled forms where it rested again while she was busy making the fire in the oven. Sorry guys, just became a little bit nostalgic when I saw the automated bread maker. Different times, different places, different circumstances!
  • Probably no grains and no mills available in Bali, but you can get various flour mixtures from Prambanan Kencana, Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai No 99, phone 0361 288767, prbbali@indosat.net.id, www.prambanan-kencana.co.id recommended by Burgel.
Please add your comments and amendments to the posting. If you don't know how just send me an email and I will include them in the posting. Further research on the above questions is very welcome!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Minutes of the 5th Meeting

Meeting was held on June 17, 2-5pm at Warung Bambu, Pemaron, Bali

Present at the Meeting in Warung Bambu: Beate, Brigitta, Silvia, Burgl, Dominique, Renate, Burkhard, Evelyn

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 15, 3-5pm at Warung Bambu, Pemaron, Bali

Although some of us are in the middle of their construction projects and very busy and stressed with their own stuff, we made it to the meeting. What an effort and dedication! As a new guest we welcomed Dominique from Switzerland.
  • Beate let us know what happened with her waste water garden project after we left Villa Manuk on Sunday, May 24. As you remember 2 of the pipes for the leachfield were quite curved because they probably were leaned against a tree in the sun instead of storing them in a plane protected place. So before we drilled the holes, we turned the pipes until they were laying flat on the floor, because we remembered very well how important it is to lay the pipes even into the leachfield. But still it was not possible to install the pipes evenly in the leachfield how hard Beate and her Tukangs tried. So they decided to buy new pipes. They found white pipes instead of the grey ones which were stronger and of good quality. After having sold this problem Beate faced the next one. The leachfield was not filled properly due to a misunderstanding and soil was washed into it with the rain. Probably the top layer of the leachfield has to be replaced. This happened when Beate was not on site. So she came to the conclusion that it is crucial to be on the construction site all the time when you install a waste water garden the first time.
  • Burkhard told us about his problems of getting a kartu keluarga, the indonesian family document, with correct data.
  • And then Brigitta challenged us to help her design the waste water garden (WWG) for her new house at KEV. She brought a plan of her property and wanted to know where we would put the WWG. The specialty on her property is the dive operation with its basins to clean the dive equipment from saltwater.
  • Where to put the saltwater from the basins? Not to the septic tank said our Guru. But why not? The idea came up to make a leachfield with Halophytes, salt-tolerant plants. And we asked ourselves if these plants are just salt-tolerant or if they are also salt-reducing. Another idea was to desalinate the water. How does that work? At the end we came back to the simple solution: just let the water run into the drainage from the rice fields which leads to the sea.
  • Where to put the septic tank? led to further questions such as Where are the paths? Where are private and common areas? How is the slope on the property? We all agreed the septic tank should be as close as possible by the source of the waste that there are less chances of a blockage in the pipes.
  • Where to put the leachfield? The plants in the leachfield can be used as a hedge to give privacy.
  • Brigitta designed a freshwater tank in the earth to keep the water cool. There is enough slope to fill her private tank from the common water tank at KEV without pump. But in her house she depends on a waterpump whenever she opens a tap. Why not put a second watertank under the roof? Then the waterpump is only needed to fill that tank.
  • Where to put a waterpump? As close as possible to the water source, because waterpumps are strong in lifting water but weak in sucking water. The diameter of the lifting pipe should be narrow. Like this the water column who stands above the pump has less weight and the pump can work with less power and survives probably longer. Thank you, Burkhard, for the technical explanations! I hope, I repeated them correctly.
  • Burgl mentions that the height of the watertank is a defining factor for the water pressure. It seems that the longer the pipes are the bigger has to be the slope. She had to install a waterpump to use the water from her water tower in the solarheater on the roof because the water pressure was too low.
  • Why are we trying to find solutions by ourselves instead of hiring an architect or an expert to do it for us? Usually architects and experts do not work on site and do not design permaculturally. Often they make idealistic plans which then have to be realized by a constructor. Lucky who finds a good constructor and experienced plumbers in Bali!
  • Finally Burkhard informed about a cleaning-up festival that Yuli organized with their neighbours.
  • Beate has Neem Oil to sell which can be used to spray plants against pests.
So we just keep on learning by doing.
Belajar sambil praktek!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Next Permaculture Meeting on 17th of June 2009

Dear friends,
we will meet on 17th of June at 2.00 pm at Warung Bambu Pemaron.
I am happy to see you tomorrow.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Greece Report

A bit less than two months in my homeland and I have not stopped missing you since day one, especially since I am following closely your endeavours and successes in Kalisada, Villa Manuk and elsewhere on the island.

But I don't stay idle either! I am joining a Permaculture Design Course in Melbourne in September, where Bill Mollison will teach (hurray!). Anybody wants to join me? There is still time! I have also joined the WWOOF network (thanks to Linda who talked to me about it) and am searching to visit and give a hand to organic farms in Greece in an effort to gain insight into how things are working here. Do you guys know anything about Fukuoka and natural farming? I came across this technique while looking for WWOOF farmers in Greece and it seems quite interesting. Next week I am finally visiting the island of Kythnos, where I could end up if I were to stay in Greece for long and where Fukuoka farming could be applied successfully.

In the meantime I set up my first compost heap, in an old barrel I found in my sister's house in the countryside where I am residing at the moment ("Just do it, said the guru and this is exactly what I did :). And I am mulching and mulching and enjoying every minute of it! I planted my first tomatoes, bell peppers and herbs, I'm fertilising the plants with nettle and seaweed fertilisers I'm making myself and I am surveying the greek society in order to see if I can let it adopt me once more.. Not so bad for an engineer, don't you agree Norm? Any suggestion or comment about arid lands, dry climates and poor soils is more than welcome!

My favourite pastime though is spending time with my nephew, who is taking me with him to the wonderland of childhood while I am introducing him to the wonders of nature. Fantastic journey!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Minutes of the 4th Meeting

gathering in the shade of the bale bengong

Instead of a meeting Beate invited us to the construction site of Villa Manuk in Manuksesa where she and her husband Nyoman planned to set up the wastewater garden. We, this is Beate, Tanja, Gede, Silvia, Brigitta, Sudi, Burgl, Johann and me, met on Sunday, May 24, 8.15 am at Warung Bambu. Beate and Sudi drove us in their cars to the village. Renate and Tilli arrived a little later from the east coast and finally also the newly wed's Yuli and Burkhard joined us.

What a miracle had happened since we have visited Villa Manuk during the Permaculture Workshop in January. Beate first took us on a site tour:
- The fresh springwater swimming pool together with a bale bengong became the new center of the property. Just finished a couple of days ago. A fish pond surrounds the pool and the bale. The water source is abundant enough to fill the pool in one day. The overflow of the pool runs into the fish pond and from there the water can be used to irrigate the garden.
- Behind the kitchen Beate has set up a compost heap and a vegetable and herb garden.
- The concrete structure and the roof of the new Villa Bambu are finished.
- The construction site is busy with female and male workers from the village. The materials for the construction are as much as possible local. The wood for the floor comes from an old mango tree which was growing next door. The walls are made of bamboo, plywood and bedeg. To protect the bamboo from bugs it was cut on a favourable day according to the balinese calender and then soaked in water for one week. The roof is made from alang-alang.

After the site tour Beate explained again the principles of a wastewater garden and how she designed it. Instead of a plastic water tank they built a concrete tank and waterproofed it. We defined the height and position of the inlet and outlet, measured the slope from the outlet of the tank to the leachfield, a 1 by 8 meter wide and more than 1 meter deep trench and calculated the number of holes to drill into the leach pipe. And then we started doing it step by step.
At 1pm everybody was sweating and starving. Beate's lunch packets arrived just in time to bring us back to life.
At 2pm the children of the village arrived for their permaculture teaching. Gede explained them why to mulch the vegetable beds and showed them how to do it. He learned that ants like it underneath the jerami (rice straw) and build long tunnels there and eat the roots of the plants. So he recommends to use other mulch material like lemon grass.
Around 4pm we left Villa Manuk a little tired but full of joyful and satisfying experiences.
On the way home Silvia wanted to stop at Annette's place to find out how many vetiver plants Annette needed to stabilize the sloping border of her property. We took the opportunity to have a look at her almost finished adobe house and were all excited about the progress and the beauty of it.

Another inspiring permaculture day! Thank you, Beate and all, who joined and shared their knowledge!

Next meeting is scheduled for 15.6.2009, 3-5pm, at Warung Bambu, Pemaron, Bali

As soon as we start doing, we learn how to proceed.
Bill Mollison

swimming pool and fish pond

Brigitta taking notes

Johann, Sudi and Burgl drilling holes into the leach pipe

Burkhard checking the septic tank

Tanja overlooking the trench

Yuli setting a pole for the trench assisted by Beate and Silvia

Beate and Gede explaining the art of mulching to the village children

Brigitta and Annette having fun in the outdoor bathtube

Monday, 18 May 2009

Next Permaculture Meeting on 24th of May 2009

We will meet on 8.15 am in Warung Bambu Pemaron to drive together to Villa Manuk or - for those coming from the east - please be in Villa Manuk at 9.00 am.
I hope we can then install together our new Waste Water Treatment Garden for the new Villa Bambu.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Next Permaculture Meeting in Villa Manuk

The club meeting on 15th of May 2009 is cancelled - we will meet end of next week instead (exact date I will inform you asap) in Villa Manuk.
Finally again some practical work - we will install the waste water treatment garden of our new Villa Manuk Bambu. Hope a lot of you can join.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Minutes of the 3rd Meeting

Meeting was held on April 15, 3-5pm at Warung Bambu, Pemaron, Bali

Present at the Meeting in Warung Bambu: Beate, Gede, Tanja, Burgel, Nicole, Jochen, Yuli, Evelyn, a little later 2 ladies from the Rotary Club Lovina, Ibu Lia and Ibu Summy, joined us

Absent: Burkhard was in Malaysia, Silvia and Brigitta were busy with their projects

The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 15, 3-5pm at Warung Bambu, Pemaron, Bali

At 3pm it was pouring with rain, so we waited until everybody escaped from the rain and dropped in. Not so easy to arrive in time in this weather!
Tanja brought a colorful basket full of fresh herbs and vegetables from their organic farm for Warung Bambu. Looked so tempting that Mahesa, Beate's son, could not resist to nibble a Cherry Tomato!

Burgel's easy-to-use compostbox

  • First we had a look at the different compost containers. Burgel had built a compost container using welded iron as a frame and attaching split bamboo to it. The container has a round outline with a diameter of 1m. The cost for all materials was nearly 100'000 Rp. Gede brought the compost container he made from split bamboo. What a great artwork and a jewel in a garden! It looks like a box on legs, has a removable bottom and is a bit smaller and cheaper than Burgel's container. The different containers will now be tested.
  • Beate told us more about the science of composting. There are many different kinds and systems. So be open to it and find out by yourself.
  • Beate informed us about the Temesi project near Ubud, a waste recycling station that was founded by David Cooper.
  • Beate showed us the pictures that were made from the children in her project. They splitted in two groups. One group took photos from things they liked, the other group from things they did not like. Very interesting and informative to look at the children's view and judgement! And nice pictures, too!
  • Nicole told us that a pitch of Vitamin C powder in the water helps clean the vegetables.
  • Ibu Lia and Ibu Summy from the Rotary Club of Bali Lovina gave us details about their river and beach clean up and fun program for school children on April 24. The children are asked to bring their own glas and spoon so that no plastic needs to be used. The food will be served in banana leaves. Adults who want to join the event and contribute their help are very welcome. For further details contact Ibu Summy at 081 338030275. This event will be the start of a 3 year project to clean up villages. The project is sponsored by Coca Cola. Kaliasem will play the role of a model village.
  • The question was raised if it is culturally accepted in Bali to give comments when somebody is littering. The Balinese participants give the advice, first to become friends with someone and then comment when there is already a base of mutual respect or short "use the backdoor".
  • We all agreed that the relationship between Permaculture in Action and the Rotary Club is valuable for both sides and want to nourish it further with whatever help is needed and can be given. Thank you, Ibu Lia and Ibu Summy, for joining us!
Gede brought for everybody a cherry tomato seedling. Trim its shoots when it is about 50cm high. And give it a grate vine to climb. Water only every 2 days. With too much water the fruits become too heavy and will fall.

Luckily the rain had stopped when we finished the meeting!
As always Beate had led us very easy and skillfully through the meeting.

Good luck with your projects!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

3. Meeting Permaculture in action

Today, 15.04.2009 we will meet in Warung Bambu Pemaron from 3.00 till 5.00 pm.
See you :-)

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Excursion to Ubud

Lo explains Silvia the ingredients of BioSoap

Finally last Saturday Silvia and me made it to Ubud. Our first stop there was the Organik Market which is held on the verandah of Restaurant Pizza Bagus. I couldn't resist the tempting Cappuccino and so we sat down at a table in the Pizzeria and watched the coming and going on the verandah. On several stands organic products were offered like vegetables, seedlings, home-made jams and nut butters, bread and cakes, colloidal silver, soapnut liquid and others. We were looking for Ibu Sayu from Yayasan IDEP and found her behind a stall with lots of bright green bags with seeds.

shopping bags made from newspapers instead of plastic

I won't forget her bright smile and her name which sounds almost like sayur which means vegetable in bahasa indonesia. She explained us how to find the permaculture demonstration site of IDEP: just 500m down the road, after passing the wairingin tree watch out for the IDEP sign and turn right into the road which takes you to the IDEP site. I was impressed by the strong and healthy looking salads, comfrey leaves and other greenies in the beds thickly mulched with rice straw (jerami).

Gotu Kola at the IDEP site

From there we headed for the Botanic Garden where we spent the heat of the day walking along the little river under the shades of big trees. We were delighted by the Islamic garden with its fountain, fig trees and walls of climbing flowers and passion fruits. We discovered the bright red fruit of Mahkota Dewa and tasted the refreshing fruit of the Roselle Bush, which is related to the Hibiscus family. The dried fruits are used for making tea and are for sale in the shop at the entrance. The strong Taro's in the pond were an eye catcher. Silvia might use them at the ponds in KEV.

Taro in the pond at the Ubud Botanic Garden

Mahkota Dewa Apple in the Ubud Botanic Garden

We ended our Ubud tour with a tasty lunch at Pizza Bagus.
On the way home we stopped at a rice fabric where I filled up the car with bags of rice husks and rice straw thinking of the permaculture principle of making multiple use of resources.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Instead of Polybags

Before the lights switch off for Nyepi I would like to share with you what I found in the shops and on the market of Lovina on my search for alternatives to Polybags as pots for seedlings. Balinese people are very creative in making containers for their ceremonies and they use all kinds of materials like coconut leaves, split bamboo or others. Have a look at the picture. I think most of the Balinese women can make these containers. For the coconut leave containers on the left I paid 1000 Rp., for the bamboo container 4000 Rp.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Visit at Organik Manik in Sanur

Inspired by Elena's vivid description of the fancy bamboo water dripping system at the Manik Organik Health Food Store & Natural Health Centre in Sanur I went there on March 12 to see it with my own eyes and make some pictures for you. Here they are.

I enjoyed a lunch of broccoli almond soup with brown bread and butter while studying the bamboo pipes and the singapore tree on the verandah. And I couldn't resist to buy some organic chick peas and pinto beans to plant around my baby trees and the freshly mulched new terrace beds. I found also the Colloidal Silver there that our guru Norm always carries with him in his first aid kit. The bottle with 375ml costs 89'000 Rp., the pocket spray 32'500 Rp. They offer also essential oils, herbal teas, natural cosmetics and imported organic cereals. What a difference to the stressful shopping experiences I had before at Carrefour and Makro.

Manik Organik, Jl. Danau Tamblingan 85, Sanur
Phone: +62 361 8553380

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Minutes of the Clubmeeting

15.03.2009 15:00 – 17:00 at Warung Bambu, Pemaron

Person present:
Elena, Silvia, Beate, Gede, Tanja, Burkhard, Burgel, Brigitta, Evelyn

Yuli joins us afterwards; Doris and Peter left already for Germany; Nicole and Jochen couldn't arrange transport because of a ceremony in their village

Next meeting:
15.04.2009 15:00 at Warung Bambu, Pemaron

Greetings and message from Norm: Just keep on doing something!

Everybody was excited to share good news:
  • Silvia found a supplier for special fruit trees just opposite Kubu Lalang on the main road from Lovina to Singaraja.
  • Silvia has already Vetiver Grass to sell for 1500 Rp per plant. The Vetiver Grass, she planted to stabilize the riverbank at KEV, survived already the first flooding during the last big rain and prevented any erosion.
  • Gede told about a javan lady who sells fruit trees in Suwug. To get there drive east from Singaraja to Sangsit, there turn right into the road to Suwug and Sudaji.
  • Beate informed that the springwater pool at Villa Manuk is finished and that they will start to build another guest bungalow.
  • She already set up a travel agency for eco-conscious travellers. The idea is to find an eco certification agency for all businesses who are interested and then promote these businesses through the travel agency. The new homepage designed by Elena and Beate is on its way. Have a look!
  • Beate's Children Sponsoring Project started very well. Every month she meets with the children and wakes their interest for plants and nature. In the first meeting she asked them to bring a plant from their garden. In the second meeting they talked about these plants and their characteristics. For the next meeting they will plant seeds that they later will sell. Instead of Polybags made from Plastic they will use locally made containers from natural fibers.
  • Tanja and Gede inform that the people of their village finally become interested in their organic farming methods as they can see that the organically grown rice plants are stronger and have deeper roots than the conventionally grown ones.
  • The group agrees that it would be great to have an organic market in Lovina similar to that of Ubud. So let's keep our eyes open for a suitable location.
  • Silvia informs that the Rotary Club would like to start with a 3 year program in Lovina (Kaliasem) to clean up the village. Important part of this project will be the education program in the schools. On "Earth Day", April 22, they will "kick off" the project with a "beach clean up/educational fun program" for school children from Lovina schools.
  • Burgel initiates an easy-to-use compost container for small compounds. Gede offers to build a prototype compost box made from bamboo mat that Burgel can test before it will be promoted.
  • That we don't get too excited Burkhard tells us about his observation of "mountains" of plastic bags piling up on the beach.
  • Elena will continue her travels in the coming week and says good-bye. It was great to start the permaculture way together with you, Elena! Thank you and good luck!

Selamat Hari Raya Galungan dan Kuningan!

A Global Nyepi

Two days after Nyepi in Bali, the world decides to switch the lights off and to vote for Earth in "the world's first global election between Earth and global warming". It is great to see good ideas spread the world over with the help of the world wide web, that celebrated its 20th anniversary in the research institute I was working while I was diving in the Liberty wreck in Tulamben ;)

Fellow Permaculturists, you may want to vote for the Earth, too!
See you later today :)

Sign up for Earth Hour! - I VOTE EARTH: Elena Symeonidou

Earth Hour 2009 by WWF - Sign up for Earth Hour!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Minutes of the Permaculture-Club-meeting 15.02.2009

15.02.2009 15:00 – 17:00 at Warung Bambu, Pemaron

Person present:
Beate, Brigitta, Burgel, Burkhard, Doris, Evelyn, Jochen, Nicole, Peter, Silvia, Yuli

Next meeting:
15.03.2009 15:00 at Warung Bambu, Pemaron

Ideas, expectations, requests

We started the meeting asking the members to explain what they expect from the Permaculture-Club:

· Find and exchange ideas how to take permaculture ideals into consideration when planning housing / gardens:
Several of the members are planning or realizing housing- / garden projects. They would like to follow permaculture ideals when possible. It would be helpful to exchange experiences with materials and tradesmen and to realize a list of good sources (shops).

· Cooperation with local people:
Realize a permaculture-project like wastewater treatment (public toilette, Kindergarden / school).
Encourage locals to start business with permaculture products / services. As an example, some Balinese in Kalisada founded a company to build wastewater-treatment-gardens (Contact Sylvia).
Teach permaculture ideas to locals which can help to spread them to other Balinese people. For example help farmers to change to a more sustainable production.
Work with children / teenager. For Example Beate’s project in Manuksesa.

· Pestscontrol:
Get informations about non toxic pestscontrol. Encourage locals to change to a healthier pestscontrol.

· Organic food:
Find sources for healthy food. Encourage locals to change to the production of organic food.

· Find Environmentfriently accomondations for friends / guests

· Refuse disposal:
Install / Improve the town refuse collection service.

At the meeting we talked about cleaning. This informations should be transferred to the PCCH (PermaCultureClubHandbook)

Monday, 9 March 2009

2. Meeting Permaculture in action

On Sunday, 15.03.2009 we will meet in Warung Bambu Pemaron from 3.00 till 5.00 pm. If possible, please write me in advance if you have some ideas or wishes for the next meeting.
See you soon!


Wednesday, 11 February 2009

1. Meeting Permaculture in action

Dear permaculture friends,
Just a reminder and an invitation for those not knowing yet:

Our “ club” - Permaculture in action - will meet the first time on 15th of February in Warung Bambu Pemaron at 3.00 pm till 5.00 pm.

Hope to see you then and please feel free to invite other people interested in permaculture.

Friday, 30 January 2009

A new seedling

On the first day of our permaculture course we met in Pegasus farm, an organic farm run by young Tanya and Gede, in Kayuputih. It was my second day in Bali and I had just started to appreciate the island's beauty. I was enchanted by the place and the two young people working hard to make a difference. Later on during the day, I realised the enormity of the task and I decided that I would try to give a hand to this young couple with my own modest means.

So I offered to make a website for them, in an effort to give them some visibility and promote their business to the tourist market of the island. We formed a pretty unique crew, who worked very well together, was very efficient and in two days (!) the website/blog was ready. Thank you Gede, Tanya, Martin, Manni. I think we did a great job and we had a very good time, too. And the organic meal, cooked by Gede himself and his mother was truly delicious, I don't think I have ever eaten such tasty sweet corn in my life!

Have a look at the Pegasus website and tell us what you think, we will be grateful for your feedback.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Morphological Analysis

After we had collected a list of around 10 potential community projects of KEV, I wrote into my notebook the question: How to integrate different projects without going crazy? We probably all were a bit intimidated by the complexity of the task. But with the guidance of Norman we went through all the 9 permaculture design principles from the second day and eventually came up with a satisfying result after a few battles with papers and pens. As a former Software Engineer I thought there must be a method to avoid the paper-pen-battles and so I did some research. I remembered a method which we once used in a very complex project. It was called Morphological Box. I googled for it and found the Swedish Morphological Society which had done a lot of research on Morphological Analysis and even developed a Computer Program to support the method. On their site you can find a tutorial about the method and how to apply it. You will also find that the name is derived from "morphe", which is - surprise, surprise - greek and means form. The method was developed by Fritz Zwicky, a swiss-american astrophysicist.

"... within the final and true world image everything is related to everything, and nothing can be discarded a priori as being unimportant." (Fritz Zwicky: Discovery, Invention, Research through the Morphological Approach, 1969.)

"Morphological analysis is simply an ordered way of looking at things." (Fritz Zwicky: "Morphological Astronomy", The Observatory. Vol. 68, No. 845, Aug. 1948.)

Doesn't this sound like a permacultural view?

I wrote this posting because Norman reminded us several times how useful it would be to have a Softwaretool for Permaculture Design. Maybe Morphological Analysis could be a start.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Sustainable communities, day 3

Today the ongoing exercise about selecting and designing community projects for the Kalisada Ecovillage based on the permaculture design principles did help me stay coolheaded and not too sad that this was the last day of the workshop. It was actually great to apply all the permaculture design principles to potential projects and some great ideas emerged. From the long and rich list of ideas we had, Norman suggested that we all selected individually the ones that seemed most appropriate, of higher priority and also feasible, to come first to the KEV agenda. It was very interesting to see that we did not have many differences among us about which projects could be realised first. We also concluded that a set of guidelines and rules should be put together for all the members of the KEV project to agree upon.

The most confidence inspiring and motivating part of the day came last: once we had the list of projects that we figured would be the best kick-start, we set off to determine the beneficial relationships these projects will generate among all stakeholders and among the projects themselves. It was fascinating to see the results: a rich web of connections and links, that revealed the advantages of each project and justified their realization almost without any effort.

What the teacher did not let us say in the classroom

As we were approaching the end of the session and the whole workshop, I was really frustrated that Norman asked us to give him our feedback about the workshop via email rather than 'live'. I felt so grateful to him so often during the workshop that I was really looking forward to expressing this gratitude in the 'class'. And I am a Greek, on top of everything, so I love being dramatic and emotional. My frustration went away quickly, though, because I thought "he he, I will write it all on the blog, Norman, I haven't said my last word yet". And so I will.

Very often during these twelve days of the course I could not help thinking how great it would be for kids and young people to have teachers like Norman at school, how inspiring it would have been for me and for people like me to have teachers like Norman in the university. Teachers who are enthusiastic, inspired, engaging, full of energy, teachers who lead a life consistent with what they preach and live a happy and fulfilling life for this very reason. The way I understood it, permaculture is a way of life, a truly alternative solution to modern man's dead ends, an invitation to wise action even if the results are not perfect, since life itself is not perfect. Thank you Norman.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Sustainable Communities, day 2

Before we started today's session we got armed with two important permaculture principles, that actually apply to any project design:

  • Spend more time in planning and design than most people do in order to avoid wasting time and resources later.
  • Try as a strategy to build beneficial relationships between as many components of your project as you can.

We also mentioned the basic steps towards the realisation of a project:

  1. Create the project concept.
  2. Design and budget the project.
  3. Identify the funding sources.
  4. Plan for adequate management and sufficient follow-up.
  5. Initiate the project.
  6. Be happy about what you have accomplished :-)

It proved relatively easy to select between the community projects we had proposed yesterday: the Kalisada EcoVillage has been in the centre of our interest during quite a few sessions of the whole course and many people from the course are involved in it. So we chose to focus on the KEV (let's put this acronym to the test, shall we?) community projects.

When we actually put all the ideas for community projects in Kalisada on the table, or more accurately put on the white board, the whole endeavour seemed intimidating, especially to people like me, who are not involved in the project and have not been involved in building a business from scratch (and of this size and scope and with so many stakeholders, wow!) But the attack strategy that Norm proposed was so interesting that I almost forgot my cold feet. The idea was to apply the eight permaculture design methods to the design of the Kalisada Community projects. Impressive, eh?

Impressive, yes, but not so easy, especially on a hot, humid afternoon like today's! But we were brave and inventive and the brainstorming worked pretty well and we managed to come to the middle of the exercise, that is, apply four of the eight methods of project design to the ten (!) broad categories of community projects the Kalisada EcoVillagers could take up. Tomorrow it the last day of the course and we will go on with the exercise. I am eager to see how we will combine all the elements discussed and what criteria we will use in order to chose the projects that will be actually initiated and curried out! The excitement should help me forget the sad fact that tomorrow is the last day of the course and that this wonderful experience will soon end, hopefully giving way to new, exciting collaborations and endeavours.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Sustainable Communities, day 1

When coming home from the course today, I started browsing a book that Norm recommended, Managing the Non-profit Organization and I stumbled upon the phrase "Good intentions don't move mountains bulldozers do". It's quite interesting that Norman started today's session by writing on the white board "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". I think that the message is clear, good intentions are not enough to make this world a better place and sometimes they can even cause more harm than good. We may not want to move mountains at all (and permaculture-wise I wouldn't think it is a good idea..) but, in whatever project we engage we should try to get our act together, follow certain rules and principles, and go out there and realise it!

Some things to remember when considering any community project, or any personal project for that matter, would be:

  • Check the social, financial and environmental sustainability of the project (does this ring a bell?).
  • Check if the project is need-based.
  • Involve the beneficiaries in the process from the beginning. A community project is not worth doing if you don't have cooperation with the locals (in other words, don't knock on closed doors).
  • Avoid, if possible, complicated structures in order to get funding and try working with your personal network.
  • Do a cost-benefit analysis.
  • Do what you are good at or what you have passion for.
  • Focus on your local community. Buy locally, employ locally.
  • You don't need to say yes all the time, if you think you cannot handle a project or carry it out properly, don't promise to do it or don't start doing it.
  • Make yourself aware of legal issues, so that you avoid getting exposed to unnecessary risk.
  • Be patient and have long-term commitment: things don't change from one day to the next.
  • Work with people who care.

Reef Protection Markers in the Whitsundays, a marker of a successful project that Norman took up in Australia with OUCH volunteers.The first of the Toblerone generation?

We also talked about real-life projects and why they succeeded or failed, about different kind of structures that could be used to run projects and about different types of projects pertinent to the Balinese context.

It was high time we'd had a brainstorming about possible projects this group could take up! We came up with quite a few ideas, which we'll discuss tomorrow. Yes! Permaculture in action!

P.S. Sri from Adinda Rose joined the team today. She had a lot of interesting input for us, being a Balinese active in community work and wild animals' protection. I hope she enjoyed the course as much as we enjoyed her participation.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Permaculture exercise

Yesterday, we went with Evelyn for lunch to Gina's place in Selat, Sananda Centre, a lovely place with bungalows and a seminar centre.
We budding permaculture designers went around the property, trying to see it from the permaculture point of view and trying to suggest solutions to problems or beneficial changes that could make a difference.

I felt a bit like an apprentice magician, struggling to apply my limited knowledge on a real-life case and without Norman's guidance. It was fun! We talked about the position and design of the swimming-pool that Gina plans to have built, changes and improvements in the garden and in the buildings. We saw what termites can do to wooden structures and that was impressive! And costly to fight and repair!

I don't know if we were good consultants (although the ideas we had were pretty good, don't you agree Evelyn?) but we certainly gave all our good energy and best wishes to Gina with her nice project. And I think she appreciated it, too.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Sustainable building, day 3

It's hard to imagine a better way to finish the 'Sustainable Building' workshop than we did today.

In the morning we went to Kalisada to see to the completion of the Waste Water Garden piping in Lynda's and Glen's house. Mr Murphy forgot us today, and the works progressed very well.

The working crew went on with the pipe connections, put the tank in its place filled with water and also positioned accurately the pipe on the leach field. I was very happy to see the physics principle of communicating vessels (Prinzip der kommunizierenden Röhren :-) in action, more than two decades after learning it at school :-/. We used it to position the leach field pipe flat (not sloping) on the ground.

After Kalisada we went to Annete's place and we had a unique opportunity to reflect on one of the permaculture design principles that are harder to grasp: that of random assembly. The way I understand it, permaculture is about working towards a certain quality of life, about meeting our 'non-material needs in a sustainable way' and for this to be attained, intuition, art, our personal vision and philosophy of life join forces with scientific method and technology. (I tried it to make it sound not so cosmic, Norman!)

This is what Annette and Nyoman are doing, building Annette's wonderland.

Norman tried hard to keep us on the ground, faithful to the permaculture principles (Stay on the ground, be practical) and he asked us to interview Annette as if we were permaculture designers and she were our client. We discussed concrete solutions about the most important issues in the property, like water storage and quality. We then made a tour of the property, we finally visited the snake and the new house they are building entirely from natural materials, like earth bricks, wood, mud and thatch and we discussed a bunch of interesting ideas about natural materials and building techniques.

Since we were on a coastal area, Norman did not miss the opportunity to talk about the global warming effect on areas like this, that will probably be apparent in the not-so-distant future. Although this is quite gloomy prospect, I remember how Norman opened this workshop, by saying that 'yes, the future may not seem so bright, but there are things we can do and there are ways out of the mess we have put ourselves in. We just need to go ahead and start doing something about it!' And this is exactly what we are aiming for in the next Workshop about 'Sustainable Communities', do something about it....